Parma-based trial keeps sweetcorn growers|
knee-high in needed data
By Marlene Fritz
When it comes to selecting essential treatments for sweetcorn seed, Treasure Valley seed producers get information each year that's as fresh as sweetcorn in August.
Since 1989, UI Extension Plant Pathologist Krishna Mohan has organized and coordinated an Inter-national Sweet Corn Development Association trial that spans the U.S. and reaches into Japan. With participation from seed companies, agrichemical firms, and other universities, the study evaluates registered and experimental chemicals, biological seed treatments, and seed coatings at 25 to 28 locations annually, including the Southwest Idaho Research and Extension Center at Parma.
"It's a powerful way of knowing how a product behaves on the same seedlot under diverse conditions," says Mohan, who initiated the study and compiles the information each winter.
Most of world's sweetcorn seed
"Without it, we would have a real knowledge gap and a real data gap," says Bob Trent, vice president of marketing for Caldwell's Crookham Co., Inc. Gaps in pest protection aren't acceptable to Idaho sweetcorn seed producers, who supply 85 percent of the world's sweetcorn seed. Today's popular supersweet varieties, in particular, readily succumb to seed- and soil-borne fungi that cause seed rots and seedling blights. They need a combination of fungicides to protect them inside and out. And as chemicals move into-and out of-the marketplace, producers need data to support new registrations and to inform their own choices, depending on where their sweetcorn will be grown and which threats it will face.
"This program has enabled us to have effective chemicals, even as chemicals are being lost every day," says Trent.
At Harris Moran in Nampa, research and development manager Tom Natti notes that new chemicals may not only be more effective but also safer-and this program ushers them into the field more quickly.
"As a scientist, the best thing is to be able to provide useful, research-based information," says Mohan.
By Marlene Fritz
A two-year study by UI weed scientists Don Morishita and Tim Prather will help cheat cheatgrass out of the Idaho land it's accustomed to snatching.
For two years in Jerome County, Morishita evaluated the impacts of a new chemical, imazapic, on both cheatgrass and desirable plants-many of them natives. Morishita's findings: 4-ounce rates of imazapic controlled cheatgrass while allowing several advantageous species to germinate after spraying. Broadleaf wildflowers such as Lewis flax generally failed to germinate, but four wheatgrasses-Siberian, tall, Snake River, and especially crested-succeeded. A 6-ounce rate extended cheatgrass control into the second year.
In a study south of Lewiston, Prather found that fall applications of 4- to 6-ounce rates of imazapic caused little harm to fall-planted wheatgrasses and big squirreltail but that spring applications damaged grasses sowed the previous fall.
Advice for landowners
Examining the chemical under Idaho conditions is important because cheatgrass is such a severe problem in Idaho, Morishita says. "This provides a way for homeowners or landowners to begin rehabilitating land that is infested with an invasive species and revegetating it with native or other more desirable plants."
While Morishita's study found that duff-burning prior to herbicide application had no effects, a related study by Oregon State University weed scientist Corey Ransom indicated that burning enhanced both cheatgrass control and establishment of desirable species near Ontario. Siberian wheatgrass was the standout performer in the Oregon study.
According to Joe Vollmer, BASF senior market development specialist, imazapic is sold as Plateau to government agencies for control of cheatgrass, medusahead, and winter annual broadleaf weeds in pasture, rangeland, and noncrop areas. At the 4-ounce rate, Vollmer says it permits successful plantings of wheatgrasses as well as big and bottlebrush squirreltail, Sandberg bluegrass, needlegrass, and needle-and-threadgrass. Mixed with glyphosate, in a product called Journey, it's also approved for homeowners.
Contact Morishita at email@example.com in Twin Falls and Prather at firstname.lastname@example.org in Moscow.
Tales from Boise's biodiesel conference
By Barbara J. Smith
Yellowstone National Park's Jim Evanoff raves about biodiesel because it produces less air pollutants and is renewable and reusable. Since 1992, he has driven over 175,000 miles in the first 100 percent biodiesel vehicle to be tested in a national park, a research project shared with UI's biological and agricultural engineering department.
Yellowstone now has over 350 pieces of equipment using biodiesel, he told a biodiesel utilization workshop for 110 managers of government-owned fleets from across the nation during a September workshop in Boise.
Biodiesel fuel is oil made from plant seeds such as mustard, canola, and soybeans, and also from reusable cooking oils and animal fats. It will work in any diesel engine.
The conference was the first event organized by UI since it won a five-year $950,000 USDA grant to create and distribute public education nationwide on the topic. The grant supports the federal 1992 Energy Policy Act's goal of reducing U.S. dependence on imported petroleum by requiring certain government fleets to use alternative fuels.
400 fleets now use biodiesel
So far, 400 major fleets throughout the nation now use biodiesel fuel, including all branches of the U.S. military, NASA, several state departments of transportation, several cities, more than 50 school districts, and Yellowstone National Park.
"Bringing together national fleet managers with differing biodiesel use experiences helps us all fine-tune procedures and management issues connected with this alternative fuel," says Jon Van Gerpen, UI biological and agricultural engineering department head.
He co-chaired the event with Charles Peterson, interim dean of UI College of Engineering, and UI faculty Bingjun Brian He and Douglas Haines. Peterson played a key role in winning the grant because of premier UI programs he established in biodiesel development.
The team will sponsor more educational events during the next four years. Watch for them at
or contact Van Gerpen at email@example.com
or Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Urban trees get UI research help
By Bill Loftus
John Lloyd's research is taking roots-from the 60 Colorado blue spruce that beautify the hill flanking the ASUI-Kibbie Dome on campus to a street tree research nursery at the university's Parker Farm east of Moscow. His research also reaches beyond Moscow.
In one of Lewiston's newest parks, one of the nation's largest research groves of ornamental crabapples promises to provide important information about how dozens of varieties will perform in arid conditions.
Lloyd, an assistant professor of arboriculture in the UI's Urban Landscape Ecology Laboratory at Moscow, formed partnerships with Moscow and Lewiston city officials to apply science to urban forestry.
Colorado blue spruces near the Kibbie Dome are supplied with a sophisticated watering system that allows Lloyd and his students to test different watering regimes and nutrient levels.
The research nursery at Parker Farm will supply trees to Moscow for planting in rights-of-way and other areas at minimal cost to the city. Students will track the trees' performance.
The International Ornamental Crabapple Society's president traveled from Ohio in June to celebrate the crabapple research grove at Lewiston's Syringa Park (at Shiloh and Syringa drives) with city forester Mike Bowman, Lloyd, and others.
The grove eventually will include 80 ornamental crabapple cultivars and serve as one of six test locations nationally. Among the 70 trees planted this spring were the varieties Pumpkin Pie, Lollipop, Zumi Calacarpa, Orange Crush, Holiday Gold, Spring Sensation, Mays Delight, Firebird, and Prairie Rose.
Contact Lloyd in Moscow at email@example.com.
Mushroom extract improves plant health
By Mary Ann Reese
Health food advocates have long touted the value of certain mushrooms for strengthening immunity in humans. UI plant pathologist Wesley Chun is finding that some of the same mushrooms benefit plant health and productivity.
Chun has used a culture fluid from the reishi (Ganoderma lucidium), chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus
), and shiitake (Lentinulus edodes) mushrooms as a seed treatment for field trials of crops including chickpeas, grapes, grasses, lentils, peas, and potatoes. The culture fluid kills bacteria, fungi, and even nematodes, but does no harm to the plant itself.
In addition, use of the culture fluid increases yields of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, papaya, and pineapple. And it "definitely spurs rapid growth on almost all plants tested, and stimulates legume seed germination," says Chun, a faculty researcher in the department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences. His trials are ongoing with new crops-"whatever we get our hands on and as much as we can handle with existing resources." Contact Chun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farm-raised Idaho trout rate "best choice"
By Mary Ann Reese
One of the most prominent environmental watchdogs for fish, the Seafood Watch Program, available at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's website, today keeps Idaho's farm-raised rainbow trout on its "best choice" list, thanks in part to efforts of Ron Hardy, director of the UI Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station, and UI Extension Educator Gary Fornshell of Twin Falls.
Restaurant chefs and citizens nationwide use this list to guide their buying/eating decisions. In 2003 the list moved rainbow trout to a "proceed with caution" category because of worries that farmed trout could spread disease to wild trout, and due to suspicion about environmental effects of trout farming.
Concerned-since Idaho is the biggest U.S. producer of farm-raised rainbow trout-Hardy and Fornshell joined other U.S. scientists in providing research documenting that disease outbreaks and other effects of farm-raised trout on wild populations are minimal. Hardy's team also documented trout farming's "tremendous improvements" in feeds and waste collection practices that lower the amount of phosphorus and total solids in farm discharge water.
The result Rainbow trout moved to the list's "best choice" category.
Omega-3 Hardy's research also confirms that farm-raised trout maintain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, believed to help lower rates of heart disease and prevent cancer, among other health benefits. The omega-3 content of farm-raised trout fillets depends somewhat on the feed, but it averages 22 percent of fillet fat-comparable to that of its wild cousins. Both wild and farm-raised rainbow trout rate among the top fish for quantities of omega-3 oils, in league with salmon, tuna, sardines, and anchovies.
See the seafood watch report at mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp. Contact Hardy at email@example.com.
UI bean breeding program polishes the pinto
By Marlene Fritz
Over the past 80 years, the UI's dry bean breeding program at Kimberly has earned its place on the national map with 42 improved varieties spanning nine market classes. Now, with resources constrained and nationwide competition relentless, breeder Shree Singh is putting his emphasis on North America's most popular bean-the pinto.
The goals: to produce for Idaho bean growers high-yield, high-quality pintos that resist a multitude of diseases. "We have to be competitive; there's no way out," says Singh. "The only way to survive is to produce better beans at a cheaper price."
Developing better beans means selecting exceptional qualities from a wider gene pool. Since 1998, Singh has evaluated hundreds of North America's most popular pintos and crossed them with elite breeding lines.
It also means identifying more efficient, adaptable varieties-ones that set generous amounts of seed without generous amounts of water or farm chemicals. For the past two years, Singh's team has subjected seven pintos, five reds, and four great northerns to seven very diverse production systems-from high-input to drought-stressed. Four beans-the pintos Mesa and Othello, the red landrace Common Red Mexican, and the great northern Matterhorn-are already proving remarkably resistant to drought.
In addition, Singh has identified a few crosses of pintos with Central American scarlet runner beans that are highly resistant to white mold. Without this resistance, costly and repetitive fungicide applications can make bean production unaffordable.
"If we develop varieties that produce economic yields with fewer inputs, that's a win-win for our producers," says Doug Carlquist, commissioner and former chairman of the Idaho Bean Commission. "If we have a variety that does well with less water, that's good for us. And if a variety combines fewer fertilizer inputs with good yields, that's another feather we can put in our caps." Contact Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you know what your horse needs to eat?
By Amanda Vander Meer
Meghan MacDonald, a UI senior in animal science, answered that question as part of her final assignment in her Computer Applications in Biological Systems class. The software she created works so well she now makes it available to horse owners for $10 per CD copy.
Designed as a learning tool for people without formal nutrition education, her computer program saves horse owners time by estimating correct rations for each horse.
"I remember watching my mom determining the nutrient requirements for our horses while growing up," says MacDonald. "It took a long time for her to learn the process."
Realizing that other people could use a simple program for calculating crude protein and energy from basic feeds, she worked with Professor of Animal Science Carl Hunt to develop the program. As simple as typing in answers about each horse-its age, size, gender, and workload-the program helps horse owners quantify balanced rations per horse.
MacDonald earned more classroom credits by marketing and publishing the software. It was featured in Flying Changes, a northwest sport horse magazine. To order her software, contact her at email@example.com